Today, I was asked to describe how I felt about leaving social media. I didn’t have to think about it, to sum my month without social media in one word: relieved.
Earlier this month, I decided to completely rid myself of all forms of social media and online news. It’s a bold thing to do, but with each passing day, I realize more and more how much of a burden social media had been to me. Conforming to the validation that social media inherently gives, was shaping who I was, and I didn’t like it. In fact, it was killing me both literally and figuratively.
Physically I am at ease.
A couple of weeks ago, I’d written a blog post about how my resting heart rate dramatically dropped in the first few days of breaking the scroll. Since that post, my resting heart rate hasn’t budged; it’s still down almost 25%. Yes, you read that correctly: my resting heart rate has dropped 25% since I left social media. My heart was working that much harder keeping me alive through the stress I was putting it through. I was carelessly wasting away precious heartbeats trying to keep up with life on the virtual social scene. That is tangible proof of just how much social media was affecting me, but how? How can it affect me so bad?
Mentally I am stable.
We all live through life’s cycles of ups and downs. One day you are on top of the mountain and feeling invincible, and the next, you are stuck knee deep in a mud pit at the bottom of the valley. It’s the cycle of life, the yin and the yang. We all must embrace these ups and the downs because, without them, we could never truly appreciate feelings. But with social media in my life, and the need to validate my ideas, opinions and relationships, it caused me to feel the lows very depressingly. Since I’ve left social media, my lows are nowhere near as low, but curiously my highs are not any higher. I’m not any happier, I’m just much more even keel.
The funny thing about social media is that you don’t truly understand the effect that it can have on you until you leave. For years I’ve battled with trying to fit into the social media world. I struggled to grasp what it was that I didn’t seem to have in order to appreciate the benefits. Here are all my friends leading great lives (at least it looked like it on their timelines) and here I’m depressed for no apparent reason. I have nothing to feel shameful or guilty about, yet, seeing the world from Facebook-blue tinted glasses, I’d felt inadequate even to be considered a human.
After a month without social media, I know it’s not for me.
I’m not here to blame social media for my struggles. Millions of people are leading amazing lives and have rock-solid mindsets that social media has no impact on. But not everything is for everyone. I know at this point in my life social media is not for me. Drinking alcohol is perfectly fine for most people, but for those who are unable to control their consumption or their reaction to it, alcohol is not for them. I know that I can live perfectly fine without alcohol in my life and I’m learning now, that I can live without social media; it’s my reaction to it that’s not healthy.
So, if I’ve learned anything from my post social media life, it’s that I’m a much better person without it. My self-doubt is easing considerably, my confidence is rising. The desire I have to be me is not hinged to the almighty thumb up. My enhanced productivity at home and work is giving me a constant flow of creativity. Without the scrolling, there’s much more time in my day that I never knew I had.
I have a newfound purpose in my life that I am not ashamed to admit. My purpose in life is to be the best damn version of me that has ever lived. And I feel relieved that even after one month without social media, with my rediscovered time and additional heartbeats, I can finally do that.